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Always on Call: A look inside volunteer fire departments

CLOSING DUE TO LACK OF VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTERS. W-N-C-T’S TAMARA SCOTT JOINS US NOW WITH HOW DEPARTMENTS…. …IN THE EAST ARE WORKING TO SAVE THEIR VOLUNTEERS AND RECRUIT MORE… TAMARA… MANY COUNTIES IN THE EAST ARE CONSIDERED RURAL.. WHICH MEANS THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE YOU COULD FIND A VOLUNTEER FIRE STATION LIKE THIS ONE HERE IN GRIMESLAND NOT FAR FROM YOUR HOME… BUT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO RUSH TO YOUR HOME IN AN EMERGENCY…. AREN’T ALWAYS COMING FROM THE STATION. ..RED AND WHITE LIGHTS ..BLARTING SIRENS …WE SEE AND HEAR THEM ON THE ROAD EVERYDAY .BUT DO WE KNOW WHO IS BEHIND THE WHEEL. “I work for a wireless industry company LBA group in Greenville.” BY DAY BRYAN DIXON LIVES A LIFE LIKE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS BY NIGHT “two stations one is located in Pitt County and in Beaufort County.” A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER JUST LIKE HIS WIFE TINA “I am the fire chief for the fire department ” “Everybody picks on us about who is the chief in the house.” BOTH HAVE A PASSION AND HEART OF GOLD.THEY SAY STARTED EARLY IN LIFE “I’ve always had the urge to help people even when I was little.” “it was just that avenue that you could do things spur of the moment not planned and have great outcomes.” IT’S A JOB THEY KNOW IS NEVER FINISHED “It’s amazing how many times you go to a restaurant and you get your plate and you sit down only for your alarm to go off and you have to leave your food sitting.” 70 PERCENT OF THE NATION’S FIREFIGHTERS ARE VOLUNTEERS BUT THAT NUMBER IS DROPPING “Farmers started fire departments in different areas, and those were readily available today there is very few.” SINCE THE 19-80’S VOLUNTEERISM HAS DROPPED 11 PERCENT. WHEN VOLUNTEER NUMBERS DWINDLE RESPONSE TIMES GO DOWN RESULTING IN HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS. ALTHOUGH VOLUNTEERS CAN RECEIVE TAX BREAKS… TINA BELIEVES MANY PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SERVE BECAUSE THEY DON’T GET PAID. “budget cost. No county no state could afford to pay benefits or salary to the firefighters that they have that volunteer. THE FINANCIAL BURDEN IS TOUGH..BUT ARE THERE STILL HEARTS OF GOLD OUT THERE? “They’ve got to have the desire to give unselfishly. It’s not about me. It’s about my neighbors, my community, it’s about my family.” MANY CITIES IN THE EAST..ARE LOOKING TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION TO FIND OUT..STARTING HERE IN HIGH SCHOOL PUBLIC SAFETY PROGRAMS “Life safety that the number one goal.if you can’t save yourself how can you save someone else?” STUDENTS AT SOUTHSIDE HIGHSCHOOL ARE TAUGHT SKILLS TACTICS AND MANEUVERS.TO SAVE LIVES. “I really like the program personally you may not use it in your everyday life but that one day that might come you know what to do.” AUTUMN PHAM SAYS THIS CLASSROOM IS WHERE SHE IS MEANT TO BE. “My step-dad is the captain of Chocowinity EMS. My mom went through school when I was little to be a paramedic and she also works at Chocowinity EMS.” THE DIXONS SAY IT STARTS WITH FAMILY… “It needs to continue on. We are not always going to be here and we need someone to carry on the tradition.” BUT THERE IS A PLACE FOR ANYONE WITH THE HEART TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE “There is a lot of people that like to do it just for lights on the truck or something like that., but most people have the heart and soul to be a firefighter and that’s what I don’t want to lose.” THE DIXON’S SAY THE BIGGEST THING THEY CAN DO TO HELP…IS GETTING THE INFORMATION OUT. YOU CAN VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE…OR IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN VOLUNTEER GO TO W-N-C-T DOT COM ALMANAC Today, our temperatures remained well above normal for May. Another hot day of weather

  • The Federal Government needs to just step in and say volunteers get $50/call (or whatever), no taxes taken out of it. You'd get people lining up. Like she said they don't want to pay a dime because then a whole series of emplyoment laws kick in and benefit packages beome an issue (insurance, retirement, pension, etc etc). So States don't offer anything. They can't. People want you there at their emergency. But who cares if it costs you your whole life's time. They don't. So make them pay for something they actually want and cut the volunteers a break. Volunteer to fight…not volunteer for nothing.

  • It was never about the money or the lights/siren. I enjoyed the being a part of a team with a common goal of helping people in need. The right thing to do regardles.

  • Why can't they get volunteers? because back in the late 70's the squirrels showed up and ran the good guys off, and that applies to just about every volunteer fire company in rural america

  • im a vol. ff for 35 years and most guys with time like me are very few. I live in ny and its so expensive to buy a home here, people have to work two jobs. When I joined the FD we had 130 to 150 fireman. Today we're lucky to have 50 people. Everyone has to work, the husband and wife. Then when the baby comes along, all bets are off. Its getting dangerously short of volunteers. Its simple there is not enough time in a day, when all you do is work to pay the bills, or be homeless. Im my dept. we have fire explorers, or fire cadets, juniors, call it what you will. They are still kids and can train but there age and because of the high insurance costs, they can't go to real fires, calls,etc. I did explorer training for 29 years and most kids, young adults don;t stay and why you ask ? The same reason as the adults, they got to work two jobs or some young people three jobs to pay for college, get a car and then car insurance. Its a revolving door you can't get out of. We have tried so many different idea's to recruit and retain people, and it simply dosen't work. Im telling you it all comes back to the money. Work and no play time

  • I've never heard of family members being FFS at the same time. This is very unusual to me. But, I guess you do what you must

  • So much money for damn president to throw at a wall but not enough to pay the firefighters to come put out a fire at one of his mansions

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